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Billionaire Robert Hale Jr. brought some very persuasive teaching aids to his recent commencement speech to the graduating class of UMass Dartmouth: Per a press release from the school itself, they were “envelopes full of cash” with $1,000 for each of the 1,200 graduates at the ceremony. During his commencement speech, Hale told the graduates that “the greatest joys [he and wife Karen Hale]’ve had in our life have been the gift of giving.” And he proceeded to demonstrate a little of that joy for everyone present.

The gift totaled $1.6 million overall, but Hale attached a proviso to the gifts. The cash payments were delivered to the stage in two duffel bags and came in two envelopes for each student, one labeled “gift” and the other “give,” and the idea is that to earn the first $500, the graduates need to give away the second. As Hale himself put it:

“These trying times have heightened the need for sharing, caring and giving. Our community needs you and your generosity more than ever…The first $500 is our gift to you. The second $500 is for you to give to somebody else or another organization who could use it more than you.”

Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Hale received recognition for his own philanthropy work during the ceremony as well, in the form of the UMass Dartmouth Chancellor’s Medal.

He and his wife (the couple on the right pictured above) have performed similar gestures for various graduating classes over the past several years, giving $1,000 each to more than 2,500 UMass Boston graduates last year, also with the donation string attached. And in 2021 and 2022, it was the graduating classes at Roxbury College and Quincy College, respectively, who got what has now become Hale’s signature graduation present.

The moral: If you’re graduating from college and you see Robert Hale Jr. giving the commencement speech, you should feel a little slighted if you don’t also receive $1,000 in cash along with your diploma.



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